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In early May the carcass of a Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) washed onto the reef in west Gorontalo. Miguel’s Diving staff made a whirlwind trip to the remote location. We found the whale in about one meter of water, laying on its side, and barely floating on top of the reef. Weestimate its length to be 12 meters. The carcass was in an advanced state of decay, giving new meaning to the phrase “bloated whale.” Evidently the current brought the carcass into shallow waters.
Although local fishermen had never seen a sperm whale, Miguel’s Diving boatman Sahir had seen one swim under his small fishing boat in the Togian Islands where he was raised. Sperm whales have a very distinctive head and jaw. The lower jaw has a row of conical teeth that can weigh up to a kilo each. Our intrepid dive master swam down to inspect the jaw and discovered that local Bajo fishermen had already removed the teeth.
We are sending a small chip of jawbone to a cetacean research center for analysis. We are told that sperm whales often die in combat with deep-sea squid, their favorite meal.